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In Winning Definition of 'Flame,' Jargon Melts Away

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

Ben Ames, winner of a contest to explain a flame in terms that an 11-year-old could understand, was flummoxed when asked what he would say to someone who asked him what a flame was. "Argh," he said after a pause. "It's really hard to do this without visuals."

Mr. Ames's winning entry, announced Saturday at the World Science Festival in New York, indeed incorporated visuals--a seven-and-a-half-minute animated video of a scientist explaining fire and flames to someone chained in hell.

"It must be torture being around all these flames and not knowing what they are," the narrating scientist says helpfully before launching into how the chemical reactions generate heat and different colors of the flame.

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